But there are still a couple places in Montreal where you can spend a couple hours going back in time…
“Play it Again, Sam” is from the movie Casablanca and is actually one of cinema’s most frequently misquoted lines of all time. (Humphrey Bogart’s’ character in fact says simply to Sam, the pianist: “Play it”). But, cinematic hair-splitting aside, it sets the tone perfectly for the piano bar: a swanky setting serving good, strong drinks and an able, amiable man at the piano willing to take requests and set the mood you want to hear.
The Voyageurs Bar Lounge at the Fairmount the Queen Elizabeth Hotel is the place for you. Every night (except for Sunday) from 5pm-8:30pm you can catch Gerry Pucci planted behind the grand piano, a spot he’s held down for almost 20 years. Grab a stool located near the piano and he’ll be happy to play your request. Or simply settle into a spot at the long brass bar and let the live background music wash over. Grab a martini from their extensive list or try their signature drink, the “Give Peace a Chance,” a gin-and-sake tribute to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who held their historic Bed-In in Suite 1742 of the hotel. Pucci is actually on vacation until August 18th, but until then feel free to warm up to Montreal’s best piano bar with Melina, who sings every Thursday night, and is, if we’re keeping our historically accurate language intact, one world-class dame.
Stash Café is another option if you’re looking for a piano-fueled night, but the piano is the only thing it has in common with the above. In the heart of Old Montreal, this restaurant serves up hearty Polish cooking and specialty vodkas while their pianist plays every night from 6-10pm. Sure, there were no pierogies in Casablanca, but hey, it’s 2009.
Voyageurs Bar Lounge, Fairmount the Queen Elizabeth Hotel 900 Rene Levesque Blvd. W, H3B 4A5, 1 (866) 540-4483 Stash Café, 200 rue Saint-Paul Ouest, H2Y 1Z9, (514) 845-6611